Page:Henry Adams' History of the United States Vol. 2.djvu/31

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Ch. 1.

Monroe was ordered from America to France. Of all the events of the time, Leclerc's death was the most decisive. The colonial system of France centered in St. Domingo. Without that island the system had hands, feet, and even a head, but no body. Of what use was Louisiana, when France had clearly lost the main colony which Louisiana was meant to feed and fortify? The new rule of France was not unused to failure. More than once he had suddenly given up his dearest plans and deserted his oldest companions when their success was hopeless. He had abandoned Paoli and Corsica with as little compunction as afterward he abandoned the army and the officers whom he led to Egypt. Obstinate in pursuing any object which led to his own advancement, he was quick to see the moment when pursuit became useless; and the difficulties that rose in his path toward colonial empire were quite as great as those which had driven him to abandon Corsica and Egypt. Not only had the island of St. Domingo been ruined by the war, its plantations destroyed, its labor paralyzed, and its population reduced to barbarism, so that the task of restoring its commercial value had become extremely difficult; but other and greater objections existed to a renewal of the struggle. The army dreaded service in St. Domingo, where certain death awaited every soldier; the expense was frightful; a year of war had consumed fifty thousand men and money in vast amounts, with no other result than to prove that at least as many men and as much money would be